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CSS codemods via PostCSS

This page covers the process of writing codemods that can automatically refactor CSS stylesheets, including tips and best practices for working with CSS and creating maintainable codemods.

In some cases, it's possible that you may need to write a codemod that applies changes across different programming languages JS, CSS, etc. It could be because the package you're writing a codemod for has an API that spans across both JS and CSS, for example a Design System or CSS-in-JS library. Where some of your consumers may be using the JS interface and some the CSS interface.

In this scenario, it's possible to repurpose JSCodeshift to handle this by treating JSCodeshift purely as a "Runner", or in other words, as the entrypoint to the files you're looking to modify and substitute a transformation library of your choice. For example PostCSS, Babel, etc.

However, this does come with drawbacks, you will no longer have access to JSCodeshift parsers and transformation API. This guide will explain how to handle these yourself.

As an example, We'll take the JS/CSS use-case and use the popular PostCSS library as our substitute transformation library.

Step 1: Installing dependencies

Get started by creating a new Hypermod package with npx @hypermod/cli init --package-name css-codemod --preset update-css-api ..

This will create a new Hypermod package with a configuration file and empty transform file for the preset you specified.

Navigate into your new directory with cd css-codemod and install the relevant dependencies: npm install -s postcss

Step 2: Parsing

Now navigate to your transformer file, which should look something like this:

export default function transformer(file, { jscodeshift: j }, options) {
const source = j(file.source);

// Transformation goes here

return source.toSource(options.printOptions);

You can remove the following lines:

export default function transformer(
- { jscodeshift: j },
- options
) {
- const source = j(file.source);

// Transformation goes here

- return source.toSource(options.printOptions);

Now that we've removed JSCodeshift's parsing and output API, we can substitute PostCSS:

+ import postcss from 'postcss';

export default function transformer(file) {
+ return await postcss([plugin()]).process(file.source).css;

Here we set up PostCSS with a plugin() (more on that later) and pass in the raw file file.source for processing. Once processing is complete we return the raw file back to JSCodeshift for output via .css.

Step 3: Transformation

Now that we've setup parsing we can turn our attention to transformation. The way that can be done in PostCSS is via their plugin system.

For example purposes, our transformation will simply reverse the names of CSS declarations like so:

.my-class {
- background: red;
+ dnuorgkcab: red;

Very useful. Let's create the plugin() function that does this now.

To assist with writing PostCSS plugins, you can use

const plugin = (): Plugin => {
const processed = Symbol('processed');

return {
postcssPlugin: 'UsingTokens',
Declaration: decl => {
if (decl[processed]) return;

decl.prop = decl.prop.split('').reverse().join('');

decl[processed] = true;

Step 4: Running

You've created your very first CSS codemod, nice work! We can now run it against some code to verify that's it's working correctly.

npx @hypermod/cli -t css-codemod/src/update-css-api.ts -e css path/to/src